Health Care as a Commodity: Reflections on the Hudson Decision

So a key part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s not-so "liberal" health insurance "reform" bill was declared "unconstitutional" last week by the right-wing federal district court judge Henry E. Hudson in Virginia.  In a 42-page opinion, the justice wrote: "Neither the Supreme Court nor any federal circuit court of appeals has extended Commerce Clause powers to compel an individual to involuntarily enter the stream of commerce by purchasing a commodity in the private market."

The extremist Republican right (whose arch-regressive agenda is falsely labeled "conservative") had a field day.  The talk radio and FOX "News" mob was all abuzz.  The G.O.P/Tea.O.P, felt emboldened in its campaign to repeal the health law, which it has absurdly denounced as a "socialistic" effort to "pull the plug on grandmother" and advance "socialized medicine" and radical "government takeover of our healthcare."

The ultimate impact of Hudson’s decision is unclear.  The health care legislation has already been upheld (declared constitutional) by two other federal district judges, and Hudson made no move to block implementation.  The case should work its way to the Supreme Court, where I (hardly a legal expert) have no idea what might happen.  A law professor in my current hometown says that Hudson egregiously ignored the already established constitutional validity of the widely popular Medicare program.  Part A of that that program mandates that working Americans must advance part of their wages and salaries towards covering their hospital bills after they turn 65.  If Congress can make citizens buy hospital insurance for their old age, the professor argues, it surely can require them to purchase health insurance in their current, pre-senior years.

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